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Five Million Years to Earth (1967)

Quatermass and the Pit (original title)
Approved | | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi | 16 February 1968 (USA)
1:02 | Trailer
A mysterious artifact is unearthed in London, and famous scientist Bernard Quatermass is called into to divine its origins and explain its strange effects on people.



(original story), (screenplay)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Duncan Lamont ...
Bryan Marshall ...
Edwin Richfield ...
Grant Taylor ...
Police Sergeant Ellis
Maurice Good ...
Sergeant Cleghorn
Robert Morris ...
Jerry Watson
Sheila Steafel ...
Hugh Futcher ...
Sapper West
Hugh Morton ...
Elderly Journalist
Thomas Heathcote ...


While digging a new subway line in London, a construction crew discovers first: a skeleton, then what they think is an old World War II German missile. Upon closer examination the "missile" appears to be not of this earth! This movie examines the age old question of how we came to be on this planet. It is surprisingly scary. Written by KC Hunt <khunt@eng.morgan.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Force more powerful than 1,000 H-Bombs unleashed to devastate Earth! World in panic! Cities in flames! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



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Release Date:

16 February 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Five Million Years to Earth  »

Box Office


£275,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The producers requested both orchestral and electronic cues from composer Tristram Cary in order to have a choice of scores to use. He provided around thirty minutes of symphonic music plus electronic pieces (to represent the Martian threat), though much of it was lost during post-production editing and recutting, occasionally being replaced with stock tracks. See more »


When the spaceship starts to come alive, you can see the wires holding up the floating debris in the tunnel. See more »


Professor Bernard Quatermass: These shapes, suggests some sort of... apparatus... instruments...
Col. Breen: Your imagination is running wild
Professor Bernard Quatermass: Isn't yours?
Col. Breen: What?
See more »


Referenced in 'Halloween': A Cut Above the Rest (2003) See more »


Written by Carlo Martelli
Performed by Royal Ballet Sinfonia directed by David Lloyd-Jones
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the greatest science fiction films ever made - in fact my favorite.
14 May 2004 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

This film is not your usual sci-fi monster from the deep or outer space but a story based on comprehensible logic - the suggestion that the human mind and it's psychic and sixth sense qualities was the result of alien intervention with our ancestral primates millions of years ago. Andrew Keir plays a fine role as the tweedy dressed sometimes gruff gentleman professor, Bernard Quatermass who teams up with equally amiable James Donald as Dr.Mathew Roney and his attractive female assistant Barbara Shelley as Barbara Judd to solve the riddle of a strange craft and several ape like skeletons unearthed during the reconstruction of an underground London railway station. At first thought to be an unexploded second world war missile an Army demolition team is brought in to disarm it, led by the bombastic single minded military thinking Colonel Breen played by Julian Glover who scoffs at the theories of the two scientists that this could be anything more than a German V weapon. The finding of large insect like creatures preserved within the hull of the craft and an analysis of their physical attributes leads Quatermass and Roney to conclude that they are Martians who along with their ape like passengers were killed as a result of a crash landing five million years beforehand. Quatermass also speculates that the apes had been previously taken from Earth to Mars and altered in order to give them Martian thinking characteristics which were then inherited by their human descendants. Breen dismisses the insect creatures as fakes and convinces his government superiors that the missile is safe, against the advice of Quatermass, Roney and Judd who have already discovered sinister awakenings within the craft after a workman dismantling his drill therein is seized upon by an invisible propelling force along with terrifying mental images. When the public and press are admitted to the site the craft comes to life generating a ghostly devil looking apparition, along with the now mind affected local population banding into groups and unleashing a killing spree on their own kind. Quatermass and Roney must now pool their scientific expertise to neutralize the menace and restore order. Nigel Kneale's compelling screenplay is sheer brilliance and gives this film a distinct and special uniqueness in the world of science fiction. A must see for the serious minded movie watcher.

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